Stamp of approval
Is $3 a day for food too much?
By the time you read this, Yolo County 3rd District Supervisor Matt Rexroad will have completed his first (and last?) food-stamp challenge—a five-day period with a food allowance of $15. This interview took place before he started the challenge, but his progress can be monitored on his blog (www.rexroad.com). Here’s a highlight from day one of the challenge: “I can’t say that I am loving this. My family all had a wonderful breakfast and dinner. I did not.” For his work with the Republican Party, Rexroad has been called a GOP operative, but he couldn’t care less. And even though his presidential pick lost really bad this year, it doesn’t stop Rexroad from doing some serious mavericking.
What prompted this challenge?We did a tour of the Yolo County Food Bank. They do a lot of really cool work, like a good Friday thing where they give away all their perishable stuff on Friday. They’ve been doing this thing nationally [http://foodstampchallenge.typepad.com], where people to try to live off $3 a day. I dig the challenge portion of it, but if I had time to prepare, I think this 3 bucks a day thing would be pretty easy.
So do you think the food stamp allowance of $3 a day is too high?In law school and college, [a study] looked at what we give people for food. Right now, we give money for food and people can buy whatever they want. Clearly it would be stupid for me to take my 3 bucks a day and go to Taco Bell for 5 days, but if I get $15, [I can go] to Food 4 Less on Sunday night and buy stuff for five days. If I can buy a bag of rice and a bag of beans, I could do this pretty easily.
Is this just a ploy to lose weight?I actually I think I’m going to gain weight. I’m going to work out every day.
Maybe you should do it for a month; anyone can do it for a week, really.You can; I went to survival school—because I’m a Marine Corps survival instructor—and we had to live for like a week off the land. If I had time, I’d plant seeds, tomato plants and corn.
I don’t know how many people using food stamps have gardens.They don’t, but they have to live somewhere. If you were to steal a bag of dirt, if you go to a dirt field and throw a bunch of dirt in a bucket, I don’t think anyone’s going to stop you.
Can you get booze and cigarettes with food stamps?I don’t know the rules now, but when I worked for Holiday Foods here in Woodland when I was in college, there were people who would come in and they would buy Pepsi instead of milk for their kids because Pepsi was cheaper.
Also when I was in college, there was this study that [was] trying to determine what the least amount of money is that we could give people to be able to get 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of nutrients they need in their lives. The study showed the cheapest way to do it, and they felt people could live off—this was 20 years ago—like 600 bucks a year. The diet consisted of rice, beans, chicken livers, frozen orange juice and a multivitamin … something like that.
Now that’s certainly not optimum nutrition, but most people end up buying much fattier foods, and they are in much worse condition as the result of buying anything that they want. They may not be able to buy booze and cigarettes, but I think they have total discretion to buy, you know, a can of fatty sausages as opposed to a tomato or spinach.
Mmm. That made me hungry.Which did? The spinach or the fatty sausage?
The fatty sausage sounds pretty good. So what are you going to miss most?Diet Coke. But my plan is just to make a big stew and go for it.
Maybe you’ll get a good recipe out of it, ike “Rexroad’s goulash.”And I’ll open my own restaurant and you’ll come and spend lots of money out there.
Is this on the honor system?Yeah! I guess nothing would prevent me from having money in my wallet and driving through McDonald’s or Sonic.
You’re pretty recognizable, you know, so it’s not going to be easy to cheat.People will see the big, bald head.
Hey, is there any way I can become a GOP operative?Yeah, you know, I don’t even know if there’s not even a requirement that you are a Republican. You just have to work for Republican causes, I guess. You know, [I spent a lot of] time on Proposition 11, the redistricting ballot measure; most reasonable people voted for that. But I guess I’m a Republican operative.
It’s James Bondish.There are people who think I’m Darth Vader.
It’s your last name, too: Rexroad.Yeah, that doesn’t help.